My son has a custom of wearing his swim goggles in the bathtub. He figures if the goggles keep out the water in the pool, they must keep out the soap in the tub. Somehow, no matter how hard we try to protect his eyes, a few bubbles always seep through.
With the recent information in Los Angeles about online schooling and continued rise of Covid cases, it is difficult shielding our children from the onslaught of news. My husband and I carefully determine when and where we will speak about world events, but our children have questions, curiosities, and fears. Some of the anxieties are easy to tackle: who is my new teacher? Will I be in class with my friends? The harder questions are ones that I can barely stomach to discuss: When will we return to school? Will I get sick? When will it “all” be over? And while I want to put goggles over their eyes, I know something is bound to seep in. We cannot fully protect our children from the frightening events of the outside world.
Dr. Wendy Mogel, author of “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee” reminds us, “We can help children become calmer and more resilient by staying calm ourselves.” She writes in her book that children are meant to develop middot, character traits of strength and humility. If we constantly fear what our children may or may not feel in their own lives, we deny their opportunity to build foundations of independence and buoyancy. We don’t want them to live in constant pain. It is more of a realization that even with the good intentions of constant shielding, we are causing damage to the spirit and nurturing of our children.
Perhaps the answer is to remind our children, that even goggles aren’t foolproof. Sometimes, the world is difficult. Sometimes we want to cry. Sometimes we just don’t know the answers. But with each day, we learn a little more. We must acknowledge the blessings that hide within the angst, and be honest: this is a hard time we are facing as a family, community, country and world. But it is a situation we are facing together.
The soap will continue to seep in. But, God-willing, my son will know that while I cannot fully remove his pain, I will be by his side to help dry his tears.